Take a closer look at the fascinating history of Levi.
EARLY DAYS OF LEVI AND THE FIRST VISITORS
Although Levi's 60th anniversary is celebrated during the 2023-2024 season, Levi fell and the village of Sirkka have been attracting winter tourists since the 1930s. At that time, tourists usually arrived in Kittilä by horse-drawn carriages and stayed in local accommodations since there were no other lodging options available, and there were no ski lifts on the fell, so the only way to reach the summit was by skiing up. However, by the 1950s, Sirkka Matkailumaja had already welcomed tourists from Canada and Japan.
RISE OF SKIING AND INITIAL INVESTMENTS
The interest of tourists in Levi continued to grow over the years, and skiing activities reached a new level in 1964. At that time, the municipality of Kittilä acquired land on Levi fell and built a small lift in the location of the current Front Slopes. Tourism remained small-scale and down-to-earth until the 1970s since there were few accommodations and services in the village.
INTERNATIONALIZATION AND THE BEGINNING OF YEAR-ROUND TOURISM
Levin Loma Oy built its first log cabins in 1975, and the next year, Levin Hissit Oy, in cooperation with Kittilä municipality, Levin Loma, and Sirkka Matkailumaja, were established. Two new lifts were added to the Front Slope, and the skiing season typically extended from February to May. Ski trails continued to expand, and the nearest licensed restaurants were found in Kittilä.
With the increasing popularity of skiing, the lift company also grew. By the spring of 1980, the company employed six people. The first hotel, Hotel Levitunturi, was founded in 1981. It also had the honor of being Levi's first restaurant with an A-license. One significant event for Levi's tourism occurred in 1982 when civilian air traffic began at Kittilä Airport. Finnair started weekly flights from Helsinki the following year.
The value of year-round tourism was recognized early on, and in 1983, an 800-meter summer sled track was opened, and the town center remained open in the summer as well. One of Levi's autumn season classic events, the Ruska marathon, was first held in 1984.
NEW MILLENNIUM AND A TIME OF EXPANSION
In 1989, Kittilä Municipality and local businesses established Levi Matkailu Oy with the idea of bringing all area businesses together. From the beginning, the company's tasks included marketing and central booking operations. In the early 1990s, the lift company already employed an average of 20 people. Slopes and lifts were steadily added to meet the needs of tourists. In 1992, the South and Peak Lifts, as well as Ski Bus operations, started. At this point, Levi's network of ski and snowmobile trails covered about 1,000 kilometers. Levi was first named Ski Resort of the Year in 1993, a recognition that has been repeated five times since.
The turn of the millennium was marked by the launch of Finland's first gondola lift. In the early winter of 2000, Levi hosted men's European Cup slalom and giant slalom races. Due to the successful organization, Levi secured a permanent place on the FIS race calendar.
SIGNIFICANT INVESTMENTS AND LEVI'S RISE TO THE TOP IN THE EARLY
2000s The early 2000s were a period of strong development and internationalization for the ski resort. Over 8 million euros were invested in the gondola area, including lighting for televised events, snowmaking, and a world-class race center. As a result, Levi became Finland's largest ski resort in 2001.
Hosting international races reached a new level in 2001 when Levi hosted the opening races of the women's European Cup. In the fall of 2002, the men's European Cup opening races were held, and one of the brightest goals was achieved when Levi was awarded a women's World Cup race in February 2004. In November 2006, Levi had the honor of starting both the women's and men's slalom seasons, and this event is now a permanent fixture on the FIS race calendar.
NEW DIMENSIONS OF SUMMER TOURISM AND EXPANSIONS IN ACCOMMODATION
One of the major summer tourism projects culminated in 2006 with the opening of Levi's 9-hole golf course. The expansion to an 18-hole course was completed two years later. In the following years, Levi continuously invested in increasing both skiing and accommodation capacity. In 2007, Zero Point, the Express Gondola Lift, and the North Chairlift were built. The Levi Market, Lapland's largest single tourism investment with accommodations, restaurants, shops, and a parking garage, was completed in the following autumn. New accommodation complexes, Hotel Panorama and Holiday Club Levi, opened their doors in the fall of 2009.
TOWARD A NEW DECADE: RENEWALS AND INNOVATIONS
The new skiing center in the South Slopes was established in 2014 when a six-person chairlift and another covered magic carpet lift were opened in connection with the South Point service building. The value of this investment was approximately 11 million euros. In 2019, Levi West, a new, state-of-the-art chairlift for Levi's western slopes, was the major investment. In the summer of 2020, the Levi West area gained more slope area, new lighting, and increased snowmaking capacity.
Additionally, new trails were built in Levi Bike Park, and snowmaking capacity and snow storage were expanded.Significant investments were made in the snowmaking system and a new maintenance hall for the South Slopes in 2021. The next major investment was the LED lighting for the Front Slopes and the new Glacier Express chairlift. In 2023, Levi's long-term efforts and investments were once again recognized with the Ski Resort of the Year award from the Finnish Ski Resort Association. Levi also received praise for hosting the Interski Congress.
The entire 60-year history of Levi has been characterized by one factor: growth. Over time, it has required collaboration across the entire industry, care for customers, planning, and responsibility. However, continuous development has created a unique destination in Finnish Lapland. In the anniversary year, the fell is better than ever in every season, with confidence in the future.